El Camino del Pie: The Way of the Foot
The Camino de Santiago, The Way of St. James, is a pilgrimage trail across northern Spain that is more than 1,000 years old, but in its essence it is as much an exercise in meditation as it is a religious journey. Thus, its 500 miles become an experience in walking meditation, which is emphasized in the writings of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, especially in his book Peace is Every Step. In the same way that walking becomes a form of meditation, any activity in which we are fully focused on what we are doing when we are doing it, and only on that, becomes meditation.
Just as martial arts capture this principle, as in the examples of aikido (the way of harmonious spirit), judo (the way of gentleness), karate-do (the way of the empty hand), and kendo (the way of the sword), mindful walking becomes a form of meditation. If we wish, then, we can call a journey along the Camino de Santiago, rather than “The Way of St. James,” “The Way of the Foot” (“El Camino del Pie” in Spanish), which gives it a more universal, non-sectarian name and captures its meditative powers. My name is Peter Greenhill, Co-Director of the `Iolani Peace Institute in Honolulu, HI, and I will be walking for peace on the Camino de Santiago. In the brief blog entries I will try to write along the way, I hope I will give you a chance to feel at least a partial sense of “the way of the foot.” Please enjoy it one step at a time.